Edible weeds from farm to market: A resource guide

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2017: $14,975.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Golden Roots Farm
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety, nutrient management, pollination, pollinator habitat, postharvest treatment, varieties and cultivars, water management, weed management
  • Education and Training: focus group, networking, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-restaurant, farmers' markets/farm stands, market study
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, hedgerows
  • Pest Management: weed ecology
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Sustainable Communities: urban/rural integration

    Proposal summary:

    Many common weeds farmers battle with are the very ones popping up on restaurant menus, farmers’ markets, and pages of national media. The market potential for edible weeds is expanding and some farmers are well-positioned to take advantage of this supplemental income, as they have disturbed soil (a favorite habitat for edible weeds) and a business set up for selling produce. For farmers, edible weeds can diversify production, increase the dollar-per-acre yield, offset labor costs, and reduce the overall seed bank. For consumers, edible weeds offer new flavors and nutrition otherwise hard to get from cultivated crops. Environmentally, weed crops require no input of fossil fuels or soil amendments and can raise public awareness about organic management of invasive species through consumption. Expansion of this market, however, is hindered by limited information. Farmers lack time to research plant identification or collect consumer resources when little information is available on how edible weeds function as farm crops. Marketing potential, pricing statistics, harvesting methods, and incorporation of weed harvests into weed management plans is all but unknown. We propose to create a free PDF resource guide for farmers on how and why to use edible weeds as crops. We will collect content through a primary study with partner farmers, regional survey, expert interviews, and literature research. The guide will be made available online and distributed through robust outreach efforts. With this information, we intend to support and empower producers who wish to add edible weeds to their harvest lists.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    We will research, write, and disseminate a PDF resource guide to help farmers sell edible weeds. The guide will address how to harvest, price, and sell edible weeds, integrate them into a weed management plan, and reliably incorporate them into a crop plan. By partnering with 10 farmers to collect data and conducting a survey of Northeast farmers, we will study edible weeds sales to explore best management practices and potential problems. These findings, along with supporting educational content, will make up the resource guide.
    Content includes:
    -Identification guide to 10 most common disturbed soil edible weeds, with:
    -An overview of pricing
    -Nutritional information
    -Taste description and culinary uses
    -Harvest information for wild vegetables by category: roots, shoots, leaves, flowers, fruit, seed
    -Foraging safety
    -Tips on incorporating edible weeds into weed management plans
    -Directory of resources for wild food identification and recipes
    -Case studies detailing different approaches to edible weeds on farms
    -Interviews with agriculture and science professionals who work with wild food
    -Potential environmental benefits and concerns
    The main questions we seek to address are:
    -Are edible weeds a sustainable supplemental income source for farmers?
    -What are the best methods of selling and managing edible weeds on farms?

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.